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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a 2nd year beekeeper. I attended a bee school this past weekend, and I have a few questions about raising queens. I am under the impression that I can take a newly laid frame of eggs, with another frame of honey, along with enough worker bees to attend to this frame of eggs and put them in a nuc. If I confine them for 24 hours, they will realize they are queenless and begin to do what they need to do to make queen cells. If I keep an eye on them you can cutout the queen cells before they hatch and use them for splits or replacing another queen or whatever the need.

Do I have the basic idea correct? They discussed raising queens and doing splits, but the preferred choice seemed to be purchase a good queen from good stock. All because of the time frame in which it takes for the queen to emerge and start laying, it is like 56 days or so before brood has emerged from start to finish. Is this correct?

If you do make a small nuc and raise a queen, is there enough time for them to build up over the summer to outlive the winter? What if you feed them and do not expect a honey crop?

I would like to try this, but the grafting option seems a bit complex for my newbie skill level. Maybe later, but I am still getting the grasp of everything else.

Do I have this in a nut shell, or am I way off base?
 

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seems you took notes

but one thing that you need for small nuc's is Drawn comb - remember it takes 8 1/2 lbs of honey to make one pound of wax - it takes 12 bees there entire life to make a tablespoon of honey -

having said this you can see that you need to give them a huge head start since most nuc's have only a few thousand bees - as they die off in the 50-60 days before the new brood takes over there is a huge dip in supplies being brought in

so to make queens you have to start early before a flow
its tricky to get all the ducks in order and every year will be different

also you need LOTS of drones - you want about 30 drones to every queen that is to be mated - since the drone dies after being mated
you dont have to count every drone - just count capped brood per square inch and then give a quess of how many sq in of drone brood you have


there is more to it but others will add more later -
 

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Fatman on youtube is that best ******* ive seen a looooonnnnngggg time

he is so layed back but had a ton of info that is worh every second on his videos - wish he would make more

i like his idea of fishingline in place of the wire - but ive wondered that if you cut through the line does it lose its purpose for being in there in the first place
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I watched the fatbeeman videos a month or so back. I was hoping the bee school over the weekend would give me a little more insight.

So is that all there is to it? Give em some eggs, honey and confine them in a mini nuc & feed em? What time of the year is too late to build up a colony from a newly hatched queen? Like I said, I am a 2nd year keeper, so a honey crop isnt a real concern for me, I need to learn to be sustainable first.
 

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start early !!!!

every time you start a new hive wether it be package, swarm, nuc, or split they all take time to pick up numbers and this number is anywhere from 3 weeks with nuc's up to 60 days with some packages -

with this in mind you then look at your area - your main flows and when winter sets in -

for us here in washington we try to start packages early april and queens about june

and remember - honey is a BI product - really its a pain in the butt - uncapping, etracting, bottling, labling, selling, too many ing's just leave the honey on
 

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Depending on where you are, you can overwinter a 4 frame nuc started in August. I have 3 that I made up 8.24 and they are still alive and well now. I started them with a mated queen. I tried to have 3 others make their own queens and it didn't go so well. They are dead. Where I am, the end of August is considered very late, and not really recommended. I did it just to 'learn' and what I've learned is that with good fortune, you can indeed get lucky and have some bees live to at least mid March. I simply fed candy sugar cause they were a bit light going into winter. See the "Bee Buddies" facebook group for photos of the nucs being fed.

I fed them candy sugar on the top of the frames all winter, and it was easy peasy. Of course, we still have the next 4 weeks of winter to get through, but so far so good. We've had some NASTY weather here in Central Mass. I would check out Mike Palmer's stuff/threads though. He does some incredible work. He recommends in our area to have them done by the end of July. He routinely does this, and you don't have to confine the bees to make it work. I didn't, but I'm no expert.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Ha Ha, I dont even have any extraction equipment anyway. The safest place for the honey is in the hive anyway!

The word on the street to keep them alive through the winter is the damp newspaper, with 4 lbs or so of sugar on the top of the frames. They said damp the newspaper with a spray bottle, add 2 lbs sugar, mist again and add another 2lbs. They said it absorbs the moisture. Supposedly they can handle the cold temps, as long as you can keep the moisture from drippin on em.

whodoctor, do you have a screened bottom on the 4 frame nuc, or is it a solid box with a single entrance? I will search for Mike Palmer, for sure.

Rob
 

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Rob, Here is a link to some photos that I threw together for you. Nucs are kept in a deep. Two 4 frame nucs in a divided deep, them placed on top of a production colony (with a solid board between them to keep the moisture from the lower colony OUT of the nucs) and wrapped. This allows the heat from the lower to rise to the upper, and helps them out. Entrances to the nucs are on the SIDE of the hives so there is no drift in and out of the main colony using the front top entrance to their hive. http://picasaweb.google.com/shawnbernard/BeesMarch2010# Colonies 7,9,10 all have nucs on top of them. Other hives are various configurations based on what I had and had time for going into winter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Looks good, you ever get into that electric fence by accident?!

I like your stands, do those just sit or are they down into the ground?

It looks like you have a hole(entrance) close to the top on each hive, does this help with moisture control or some other reason?
 

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I am under the impression that I can take a newly laid frame of eggs, with another frame of honey, along with enough worker bees to attend to this frame of eggs and put them in a nuc. If I confine them for 24 hours, they will realize they are queenless and begin to do what they need to do to make queen cells. If I keep an eye on them you can cutout the queen cells before they hatch and use them for splits or replacing another queen or whatever the need.

Yes, but...

The quality of the queen is largely determined by how well she is fed as a larva. A nuc is going to have a difficult time making sure the queen is well fed due to the smaller number of bees in the nuc.

A better option might be to remove the laying queen and a few frames from the established hive and put them in a nuc, and allow the large established hive to raise new queen cells.
 

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Rob, that electric fence is 2 Joules. I don't get into that by accident. No way.

The stands are just sitting there. 16" tall, and very easy to make. I need to make about 15 more pretty soon. Cost about $10 to make. There are probably cheaper and easier ways, but I like them.

On top of each colony is a 1 and 1/4 " shim and a 1" hole in it. Thats for ventilation, for an upper entrance (the bees prefer it in the winter) and so that I can fit my sugar candy on top of the frames without any issues. This is my first year using them, and I like them quite a bit. They cost next to nothing to make or buy. Just use standard stock from the store.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The quality of queen was discussed in the bee school. So thats good to hear you are reinforcing what I heard.
So, is removing the queen, putting her in a nuc with bees & frames and letting the other hive make a queen the preferred method of doing it?

Last year I had a hive go queenless & I had that laying worker business. I defiantly want to avoid that crap!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for all the help. Whodoctor, I really like your setup. Nice stands, and that is a good idea for the top entrance. Now, I am just waiting for some on the job training!

Rob
 

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The problem with this plan is that you have a weak nuc with little resources and most of the bees drifting back to the old hive, trying to raise a queen. The best queens are produced by a hive that has an excess of labor and resources. If the nuc is overflowing with bees this will work. So if you put it at the old location, maybe it would work, or you shake a lot of extra bees in. Otherwise the quality of the queen will suffer

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesafewgoodqueens.htm

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesqueenrearing.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So, for someone with say, less than 10 hives, which method would work the best to raise queens? I have read a lot about grafting, but it just seems to me that would be done on a bigger scale. It appears to me grafting uses more equipment, and more resources. I mean, the more queens you try to raise, the more attendants they are gonna need to feed them and the more boxes you are gonna need to raise them in, right? I may be getting in over my head on this post here. But, which method in your opinion, would be the most successful for someone in my situation to raise queens for splits and queen replacement? Mr. Bush, you have enough experience if you tell me which method is the most practical for me to try, that is what I will experiment with first. I just need some good advice on where to start, and I really do appreciate all the posts. They have been really helpful.

Rob
 

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I would add also that if you are gonna try to cut cells out of frames make sure you use new drawn comb or you will tear your cells all to pieces trying to cut them out. I would go with the strong portion of the hive to make the cells. If you dont have any new drawn frames pull a frame or two and drop a few frames of foundation in and let them draw them out. Then the queen will lay in them.
 

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If I could add a quick comment about queen quality...

What you're doing in the method you've described is create an EMERGENCY queen. Emergency queens are not necessarily the best queens, as it's been pointed out that a proper queen is selected of the proper aged larva which is fed royal jelly from very early on. Emergency queens are typically smaller in size and have fewer ovarioles (egg producing structures) than a properly raised queen.

When the bees are queenless and a frame of larva is given to them, they realize that they're not in the best situation and will oftentimes raise a queen from larva that is older than optimum. (A proper aged larva is 3 days old, from the time of laying, and less than 18 hours old from hatching from an egg.) It stands to reason that if they're queenless, rather than a 3 day old larva, they could have a queen 3 days earlier if they use a 6 DAY old larva instead!

Another type of queen is the Supercedure queen. These queens are produced when the queen is viewed to be "failing" and needs to be replaced. These can also be produced by the bees from larva that are too old also.

So, what you're looking for is a "swarm" queen. These are produced under conditions of over-crowding. They are the proper age and are well taken care of. Unfortunately, it's hard to start a swarm cell, most times.

But, what happens if we take a about 5 lbs of nurse bees, make sure they're queenless, and place them into a well ventilated, confined nuc box, along with larva that we've selected for them to be the right age and size, and leave them for 24 hours? They'll start queen cells! The combination of over-crowding and being hopelessly queenless, and with no other larva to take care of, they're forced to produce queens from the cells you've put in. As they're mostly nurse bees, they have an abundance of royal jelly they're producing, and are proficient wax producers also.

Now, let's put those bees back into their own hive where they came from, and take those started cells over to another well populated hive. We'll place those open queen cells over top of a queen excluder, with the queen trapped below, and bring emerging brood up and place them on either side of the queen cells. What happens? Those nurse bees attending to the brood will now take care of the started queen cells! The nurse bees that are up there will have less of the queen's scent, and will begin to think that their queen is beginning to fail. Seeing that queen cells have been started, those bees will then continue to take care of the queen cells until they're sealed.

10 days later, pop those sealed queen cells out and place them into your splits, and the queens will emerge a few days later.

What I've described is the simple basis of CONFINED STARTER NUC, and a FINISHER COLONY. Your selecting of larva for them is GRAFTING. It's easy. Don't be freaked out by strange terminology.

DS
 
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